All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. — 2 Timothy 3:16
Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. — Psalm 119:89
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever. — 1 Peter 1:24-25
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. — James 1:5
The summer before my freshman year of high school, my brother, Dwight, and I attended our first church camp. One morning, alone with my Bible after a chapel session, I began to gain a new perspective on who God was. He wasn’t some Old Man in the sky waiting to punish me when I messed up; He was my heavenly Father, who like my earthly father (and mother) loved me for me, not for my behavior. I realized that His first and most important request was not about my actions but about my beliefs. One in particular — He wanted me to believe that He loved me.
That day I made the most important decision of my life. I chose to follow Jesus. Before offering up Himself as a sacrificial Lamb, as payment not only for my sins but for those of all others, Jesus spent His last years living a countercultural life, proving that race, gender, and age were not factors in receiving God’s favor. He was an outspoken, bold champion for those shunned and living in the shadows. One such group was women. Some very honorable, as the woman seeking healing in Mark 5:25-34, and some trying to find their own way to fit in (e.g., the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:1-42 and the adulteress in John 8:1-11).
Since that pivotal day at camp I have never faced a crossroad or obstacle without Jesus as my Champion. Nor have I spent many days without devoting time to be alone with God and His eternal Word — His love letter to us.
One of the very first scriptures I found as a new Christian and a young teenager was 2 Timothy 1:7:
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
I was struck by the order of these words, these singular promises. As I studied them, I realized how perfectly they were lined up. Power is the opposite of fear, so it’s first. Love, next, is much easier when we are not fearful. And self-discipline is the goal that helps us stand up, take courage, and take ownership. It all made sense.
At the time I was highlighting and memorizing this verse I was a high school freshman who stood taller than most all of my classmates — not a good thing for someone who wanted to melt into anonymity. I avoided crowds when I could, and did my best to keep a low profile, but most days my height did a poor job of hiding me, especially from the bullies. It was 2 Timothy 1:7, this same verse in God’s word that gave me the courage to break out of my shell and lean into life.
With my new outlook on life tucked deeply into my soul I faced one of my first tests — I was assigned a locker among all the senior boys. Instead of being timid and sharing a locker with a friend, I braved going to the one assigned to me. (You’ll note that self-discipline is an important element at the end of the verse). Surprisingly, the young men were helpful and fun, even running some needed interference when the bullies came around. God was taking care of me!
It’s funny — and amazing — when a scripture verse that appears to have been meant for you in one situation in life shows itself again, many years later, to be exactly what you need to be encouraged by when a new season begins. And then another season. And another…
I have wanted to fly ever since the day I watched Air Force pilots from a nearby base training in their slick T-38 jets do military exercises over our family farm.
But I had no idea that the path to getting there — and staying there — was going to require me to continually lean into this Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. Not just once, but time and time again, not allowing a spirit of timidity, or fear, to get a foothold — a place in my heart.
For example, after recruiters from the Air Force, Army, and Navy all tried closing the doors to my dreams of flying for our country, I assumed it was time to adjust my life plans and cut the military out of my future. So, I prayed, asking God to help me move on. After two years, the lure of flying never went away. Once again, I was reminded of the unchanging truth of 2 Timothy 1:7. I realized I needed to trust in God. If He had given me this undeniable passion for flying, then He would somehow pave the way for it to be fulfilled.
I called the local Navy recruiter again — a different one than the one who had rejected me two years earlier, despite my high test scores. This one had set aside a day dedicated to helping me get my application completed and submitted. After my request was approved, I was on my way to Aviation Officer Candidate School — the Navy’s boot camp for those who want to fly. My childhood dream was finally coming true!
That was far from the last time I would need to lean on the encouragement of 2 Timothy 1:7. Though the Navy was the first branch of the US military to put women in jets, it didn’t mean the red carpet was being rolled out for us. At one particularly difficult season in my journey to flying I wrote a prayer reminding myself that my battle was to be who God made me to be, without apology for being a woman. My value was based solely on what God, not man, thought of me. I knew that when I stood on that truth, I would be able to weather any new storm that rolled over the horizon.
God did not give me a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of power, a spirit of love, and a spirit of self-discipline. I needed to hear that when I was an abnormally tall freshman being bullied in high school. I needed it during my path through the military and while learning to fly. And I need to be reminded of the truth of it just as much today.
Written for Faith.Full by Captain Tammie Jo Shults, author of Nerves of Steel.
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Are you walking in a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline? Or is fear taunting you to keep you away from achieving your dreams and goals? Today, let’s memorize 2 Timothy 1:7 together and be reminded that God did not give us a spirit of timidity! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full